Zen 101

Monday, October 31, 2011

Moments

With palms together,


Good Morning Everyone,



Goodness, it is Halloween already. I cannot believe how quickly time seems to be passing. It seems as we age this is what happens. I remember as a child I could not wait for “X” and it seemed as though time was like a pole I had to climb and as I put one hand in front of another, it stretched on up just out of reach. Today, for me, that pole seems greased and slippery and I am sliding down far too quickly. I am confessing here that I do not want to get to the bottom of that pole. Why?

It is not that I fear the end of the pole. The pole never really ends. Its more that I want to slow the fall and live as fully as possible along every inch of the way. When time slips by it means I have not been awake to the experience of each moment. That is the problem with reverie, isn’t it? When holding on to the past or seeking the future we fail the moment. Moments are far too precious to not experience.

So, today, I vow to wake up to each and every moment.

Be well.

Training Plan: Arms and Shoulders weight workout, a two mile easy run, yoga this evening, and Zazen at 9:30 AM.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Day of the Dead

With palms together,


Good Morning Everyone,

Our dogs are playing with their “Big Dog Bones” and enjoying the cold morning air here in the desert. We have not yet turned on the heat in the house. It seems, like the dogs, we both enjoy the chill. Yesterday we hung out in the plaza with the Day of the Dead memorials. We were going to set up an altar but at the last minute changed our minds. We will set up an altar next year with Jizo Bodhisattva leading the way.

Jizo is a wonderful bodhisattva. He represents that aspect of us which protects and nurtures expectant mothers, children who died as a result of miscarriage, abandonment and abuse, as well as travelers and firemen. He is the bodhisattva who vows never to enter nirvana until all “hell-beings” are awakened and set free.

I think it is important to recognize that the Hell Realms and the Hungry Ghosts are just us in this place at this moment if we are grasping for, and attaching to, any ideas of gain, self, and awakening. To free ourselves we simply open that hand of thought and let our heart/minds open.

Be well.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Spinning

With palms together,


Good Morning Everyone,



The sun is not yet awake in this part of the world, although I have faith that the burning globe will seem to rise over the mountains in the east and spread its warmth out over all of us. Our perception is simply not to be trusted. We think the earth is spinning around the sun and the sun is spinning around in the galaxy and the galaxy is spinning around in the universe, but that spinning itself is just a result of our perception, which is to say, how our brain functions. Spinning is an artifact of our perception. It only is because we see one “thing” in relation to another “thing,” that we see “movement ” at all. Thus, sitting in my chair writing to you I feel stationary, and on this morning’s walk, I will feel I am moving. Yet, I know this is not the case. Movement and lack of movement are in my mind’s eye. So, while we often say everything changes, because of this, we can just as easily say nothing changes. In the relative world, everything is in motion; in the absolute world, there is no motion.

Just now, I hear a rooster crow.

Be well.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Large and Small

With palms together,
Good Morning Everyone,

The universe is not large. The tip of your finger is not small.  Large and small are ideas we bring to our perception. Let go of large and small, hot and cold, good and bad, and the tip of your finger, just as the universe itself, has no limits.

Be well.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Training


With palms together,
Good Morning Everyone,

Training schedules are on my mind as I am about to go in to see my cardiologist and be, hopefully, released to train.  Soku Shin and I have tentatively agreed to do the Honorary Bataan Death March in March.  This is a tough course consisting of 14 miles of desert trails. We also agreed to train-up for a 10k run in the relatively near future.  So, it is important to get our butts in gear. 

We are not certain what 10k or when, but I have designed a training plan that will get us to the Bataan race with relative ease.  J  My thoughts are to find a race in December, some jingle bell run or other.

I am adding in yoga to the schedule, as well as my old weight routine.  It is important to balance things out.  Running does things to muscles and metabolism, stretching and deep yogic breathing aids in the restoration and healing of torn muscle fibers from both anaerobic and aerobic exercise. We will round this all off with an adherence to a modified Mediterranean diet we both can eat. 

As a head’s up on other topics, I have been discussing with Brad Warner a visit to our communities (El Paso, Las Cruces, and Deming).  He is suggesting the dates around March 9th.  I will try to settle on dates and then get in touch with those in El Paso and in Deming (our friends at the Deming Zen Center have voiced an interest in having Brad come there) to discuss details.

We still have three openings for Zazenkai on November 5th if you are interested.  Please sign up at the Temple, pay in advance, and don’t forget your oryoki sets. (We do have sets at the Temple we can rent to you for $5.00 or sell to you for $20.00.)

Lastly, I have edited the reading list on our website.  It is, as always, a work in progress.  Please take a look at it. In the near future we will be adding a link to Amazon on the “Suggested Readings” page so that you might go directly there to purchase texts.  I will post to you when that has been accomplished. 

Be well.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Great Outdoors

With palms together,
Good Morning Everyone,

So, this morning we reveled in coziness and watched a trailer for Johnny Depp’s portrayal of Hunter S. Thompson in a new film titled something about rum and, while I do not support drunken orgies, booze-crazed revelries, and the like, I do strongly support living outside of the so-called “box.”

It seems sometimes, that those knowing there is something more to life feel the need to use alcohol or drugs to free themselves to experience the “Great Outdoors” (my phrase for living outside the box).  The fact is, no one needs drugs or alcohol to free themselves: we are all already free.  We just have to address our fear and let it fall away.

Zen practice is a practice that takes us to the edge, the true edge, not some chemically induced phantom.  Zen practice, truly done, demands our naked bodies to face our naked heart/minds in complete isolation.  “Bang!” It wakes us up, saying, “You miserable slug, there it is!” Nothing left to lose.  Nothing to dress ourselves in that isn’t understood to be the shallow garments of illusion.  Just this. This. The Great Outdoors.

We should do that which we have always wanted to do but never did because we were afraid of doing it. So, we should just get off our butts, get outside and do it. Life is far too short to be normal sedentary blobs.  Life is far too short to live in a box draped in comfort, security,  and fraught with fear.  To paraphrase our friend, Leonard Cohen,  it’s the crack that lets the light get in.

Crack open your box and step outside. 

Be well.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Zen Today


With palms together,
Good Morning Everyone,

This morning we will practice Zazen at 9:30 AM and this evening we will practice Zazen at 6:00 PM. We will follow that with our Zen 101 Group.  This will be the first time we have met to fully begin our study of the Wholehearted Way (the Bendowa).  Please consider joining us.  We have two or three copies of the text available for purchase if you should need a copy. 

Yesterday Kathryn and I went to White sands after morning services.  We had a picnic lunch there by making veggie burgers on a charcoal grill, added some cheese and grapes, and thorough enjoyed a walk on the dunes with the dogs.  From there we went to Oliver Lee State Park and began a trek up into Dog Canyon.  We decided to turn around though as it was getting late and returned home in time for me to have a Skype interview with Rev. Kankin in El Paso. 

Life is good, all around.  I hope each of you are well and we look forward to seeing you this morning and/or evening.  Please don’t forget to register for the Zazenkai on November 5th from 9 – 4.  The registration sheet is in the Temple’s foyer.  Also do not forget that you will need your oryoki sets for Zazenkai.

May you be a blessing in the universe today.

Yours,
Daiho 

Monday, October 24, 2011

Morning Zen



With palms together,
Good Morning Everyone,

Zazen at 9:30 AM does not begin my day…dog walking, coffee drinking, conversations with Kathryn, washing, pill taking, writing, all of these come first.  Going to the Temple to sit still is frequently a welcome relief from the day to day practice of being alive. 

She asks me, “What are your thoughts?”  I scramble, my brain floats, it doesn’t think.  I see I need to organize what is floating around in there, but just now?  At this very moment?  

She says, “No lovies on your back unless you talk.”  Oh my. I tell her my day’s schedule hoping that will suffice.  It doesn’t.  I scrabble some more.  Thoughts about the refuge surface.  I say, “We need to get to the mountain house to pack up my remaining things there.” 

The lovies begin.  I am relieved as I feel her fingers on my back.  My whole body sinks into the bottom of the bed. But then,  “Say more,” she says.  I scramble again.  “We should go on another camping trip.” I say, thinking of Oliver Lee State Park.  But in the back of my mind, I know I need to abandon this exchange of thoughts for lovies as the dogs need walking and a Zen student will be calling and we will need to be at the Zendo by 9:00…it is already 6:30.  Good grief. It’s one breath and one step, one breath and one step: life in the Zen lane.

And now with coffee sipped, and writing to you done, it is 7:15. Gotta go walk the dogs…be well.